WNY Athletics

North’s Catrabone, Starpoint’s LaPlante Capture Eastern States Titles; Starpoint Finishes Top Three

*From left to right: Attica/Batavia’s Casper Stewart, Williamsville North’s Cam Catrabone, Starpoint’s Gage LaPlante*

LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY – Western New York wrestlers had, overall, one of the best cumulative showings this weekend placing thirteen wrestlers out of thirty-four entries at the 19th Annual Eastern States Classic held at Sullivan County Community College.

Top seeded Williamsville North junior Cam Catrabone went 6-0 through the rugged two day event on the way to his first Eastern States individual title at 145-pounds.

Starpoint junior Gage LaPlante won the 160-pound bracket in his first appearance at ‘Easterns.’
As the 5-seed in the bracket, LaPlante went 5-0 and took down the 4, 1, and 2 seeds consecutively to capture the individual title.

Eastern States has become the premier regular season individual wrestling tournament in NYS, attracting many of the best wrestlers and teams from across the state and the mid-Atlantic region at large. Eastern States brackets are notoriously rich with talented wrestlers, many of which are returning state tournament place winners, state champions, and nationally ranked wrestlers.

The tournament was sorely missed in the 2020-2021 school year, as well as the 2021-2022 season where pandemic concerns sidelined the tournament for a second straight year.

Williamsville North’s Cam Catrabone continued his remarkable junior campaign by dominating the Eastern States 145-pound weight class as the top seed in the bracket. The top-12 nationally ranked Spartan junior went 6-0 over the two-day tournament, posting two pins, a tech fall, and three decisions on the way to the Eastern States title.

Catrabone advanced to the final after taking down Section II’s Owen Hicks from Fonda-Johnstown, 7-5, in the semifinal. Hicks is a returning NYS Div. II place winner and Fargo All-American. Catrabone used a takedown and near fall points in the first period and a reversal in the second to build a 7-0 lead to start the match.

In the final, Catrabone met Ponaganset, Rhode Island’s Jason Hood, a returning RI state tournament runner-up.

Catrabone earned the first points of the match with a late first period takedown. With choice in the second, Catrabone took bottom and escaped for a 3-0 lead. Hood selected neutral in the third period, but Catrabone got the takedown and conceded no points for the remainder of the bout for a 5-0 decision victory.

“In the final, I just wanted to score as many points as possible and dominate,” said Catrabone after the final. “Something I will have to improve on before the state tournament is wrestling to score during the whole match.”

So far this season, Catrabone is 36-2 with top three placements at both the powerful Beast of the East and Powerade tournaments, and now adds a valuable Eastern States title to his resume. Cam is also a two-time NYS tournament place winner.

Starpoint’s Gage LaPlante upset three higher seeded wrestlers as the 5-seed at 160-pounds on the way to claiming the Eastern States title, in his first trip to the tournament. Other than the finals match, LaPlante’s most impressive victory may have been his 16-1 technical fall win over Clarke’s (VIII) defending NYS 3rd place winner Jack Forte in the semifinals. Forte was the top seeded wrestler in the bracket.

LaPlante cruised through his first two opponents, earning major decisions in each. In the quarterfinal, he earned a 5-1 win over a returning NYS place winner from Ballston Spa (II) for his first of two consecutive matches with fellow returning state tournament place winners.

In the final, LaPlante met returning Rhode Island state champion from Ponaganset, Andrew Reall.

LaPlante earned the first points of the match with a quick reversal only ten seconds into the second period. An escape by Reall made it 2-1 going into the third period.

An escape by Reall in the last period tied the match 2-2, however another takedown by LaPlante with less than a minute left made it 4-2. Reall escaped one more time, but LaPlante would hold on to win 4-3.

“Gage was able to wrestle well and put himself in position for the postseason and NYS championships, to hopefully get that first state title,” said Starpoint head coach Steve Hart after LaPlante’s victory. “Gage would not be wrestling at the level he is on right now without his own dedication to the sport and working directly with Kyle McGregor and Kellen Devlin to fine tune positions and his mental mindset. Those guys have had a tremendous impact on his success over this season.”

LaPlante improved to 30-4 on the year and adds a big Eastern States championship to his impressive season resume. Gage was an 8th place winner at the mighty Powerade tournament on Dec. 29th and is a returning 7th place winner in 2022 NYS tournament.

Starpoint entered nine wrestlers and placed four at Eastern States, the most from any team in WNY, to land a top-3 team finish in the final standings. Ponaganset claimed the team title, followed by Section VIII powerhouse Wantagh, who was 2.5 point ahead of Starpoint. Top ranked returning NYS large school dual meet champion Minisink Valley placed fourth, followed by Section V small school Honeoye Falls-Lima to round out the top five teams.

“This past weekend was a real test for us. We got to see where we truly stood…we were there with a lot of our guys, compared to the rest of NYS. There’s still some work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction,” said Hart after the tournament.
Sophomore Jaron Barrientos earned 3rd place for the Spartans at 102-pounds, freshman Griffin LaPlante was 5th at 138-pounds, and freshman Zach Caldwell landed in 8th place at 160. Also competing for Starpoint were Kole Haseley (102), JR Leuer (118), Caden Barrientos (118), Landon Grainy (172), and Matt Caldwell (215).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *